The 2016 Biostimulants Europe event took place on 30 November to 1 December in Almeria, Spain. Organised by Active Communications International (ACI) Europe, The meeting allowed the biostimulants industry to discuss topics such as latest advancements in crop technologies, sustainable agriculture, routes for funding biostimulants R&D, and policy and regulations in the field.
Biostimulants is an exciting area of the agchem industry, and a market that is growing at a considerable rate. According to the latest market report from Smithers Viscient, The Future of Biostimulants to 2021 (http://www.smithersapex.com/market-reports/the-future-of-biostimulants-to-2021), the biostimulants industry is forecast to grow from $1.5 billion in 2015 to $2.8 billion in 2021, at a compound annual growth rate of 10.9%.
High-profile speakers from the likes of Plant Health Care, Agrinos and Plant Response Biotech talked at the event. A number of attendees also enjoyed a visit to the experimental station and field trials of Tecnova, at its Almeria Greenhouses.
The two-day conference brought together stakeholders across the biostimulants value chain, including plant health and nutrition scientists; crop enhancement professionals; biostimulant manufacturers; R&D professionals; government agencies; investors; and trade associations, among others.
Rob Cannings, commercial director EMEA for Plant Health Care, provided commercial perspectives on biostimulants and biofertilisers.
Cannings noted that where conventional agchem firms spend is not necessarily the best indicator for the biostimulant markets. Previous high-value acquisitions – for instance, Bayer’s purchase of AgraQuest, and BASF’s purchase of Becker Underwood, both in 2012 – have shifted focus onto global pesticide spends. This has the potential to narrow the commercial focus of analysts too much, meaning profitable opportunities may be missed.
Cannings’ talk focused on how to deliver profitable benefits to growers. For instance, he noted that biofertilisers and/or biostimulants need to be considered an integral part of the growing cycle for crops, and of the total inputs, rather than simply focusing on percentage yield increases. Appreciating other factors, such as the mode of action and correct timing of application, also plays a part in maximising benefits for the grower. These factors are then considered when deciding how to measure the success of an approach.
In another talk at the event, Agrinos vice president of regulatory affairs and sustainability programmes Terry Stone outlined ways to enhance agricultural productivity and sustainability with biostimulants.
Stone described field trial results from biostimulants used in the production of tomato, corn and sweet onions. The trials demonstrated that yields of crops such as onions could be increased without additional input requirements.
The presentation also provided a perspective on biostimulant regulation globally. For instance, Stone noted that the European Union has an officially recognised definition of biostimulants; whereas the US does not officially recognise biostimulants. Stone also provided a detailed description of the policy and regulation situation in Spain, reflecting the location of the 2016 event.
Marise Borja, CTO of Plant Response Biotech, went further into the topic of R&D, outlining the company’s fast-track approach to technology scouting, validation, and trials. This includes its work on Neptunion, a novel plant metabolite that induces stress tolerance responses under drought or limited irrigation conditions, increasing crop yields. Field trials were conducted over 2013-16 for the product, which is designed for horticultural, row crops, fruit plant and golf courses.
Plant Response was just one a number of companies presenting on novel approaches and product innovations. Others included Alberto Bago, of Spain’s Estación Experimental Del Zaidín (EEZ), discussing use of ultrapure mycorrhizal inoculants for a sustainable management of plant production; and Henk-Maarten Laane, director of R&D for Rexil Agro, who presented on the potential of silicic acid in agriculture.
These presentations and the discussions throughout the two-day event provided valuable opportunities for the biostimulants industry to consider new commercial opportunities – from product development, to addressable and target markets. These trends chimed with those analysed in The Future of Biostimulants to 2021 (http://www.smithersapex.com/market-reports/the-future-of-biostimulants-to-2021), which provides a forecast to 2021 for the biostimulants industry based on technological innovations, market trends, and regulatory developments. The report segments the biostimulants market based on active ingredient, crop type, and end use and region.
With significant growth on the horizon for the biostimulants industry, as forecast in Smithers Viscient’s latest report, there was plenty for attendees at Biostimulants Europe 2016 to discuss.